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Jumbo Package: Nate Oats shortlisted for National Coach of the Year

And he was joined by his star player in being named a national finalist

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NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Alabama Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

I know this is going to shock you, but the head coach of a team that leans on paleoball to play shortened games, the same guy chairing this year’s Rules Committee, and the same guy who proposed the measure, thinks that shortening games and eliminating snaps via running clocks is a great idea.

There are about half a dozen alternatives here that don’t involve monkeying around with a fundamental mechanic that helps set CFP apart from the NFL, but the one that is most beneficial to Georgia’s playing style is the preferred one of Smart...the guy who proposed it? Nooooo, you don’t say.

Speaking of UGA, the Bulldogs have now had eleven arrests in nine weeks since the TCU game, many of them for major felonies. And also surprising no one, the Athens DA let RaRa Thomas plead out of a felony DV and kidnapping charge, all the way down to a misdemeanor. No jail time. Just some anger management.

But, sure guys, Nate Oats is the piece of shit here.

And that Nate guy is turning out to be pretttttttty good, after all:

I’m not sure of Coach Oats’ chances, honestly. There are an unreal 20 finalists for the all-division award, and there have been plenty of stunners around the country this year. Jerome Tang at K State is one; Jerry Stackhouse’s second-half Vandy is another; Pat Kelsey and the surprising CoC; Mays’s work at FAU.

Alabama was supposed to be good (Preseason Top 20), and wound up being elite. But what Nate Oats has done off the floor holding the team together has been more impressive honestly. Just being in this conversation is an exceptional honor.

Glad to see Steven Gonzalez and the nitwits at UA sports administration have finally been instructed on the dangers of winging it. For the second consecutive press conference, Oats and Miller have been dialed in, very respectful of the loss of life here...and not taking questions from hacks.

Miller, who is a cooperating witness and not a suspect in the case, was made available to local reporters prior to the Crimson Tide’s trip to Nashville, Tenn., for the 2023 SEC Tournament.

“I never lose sight of the fact that a family has lost one of their loved ones that night,” Miller said Wednesday. “This whole situation is just really heartbreaking. Respectfully, that’s all I’m going to be able to say on that.”

Good, reserved remarks from both men: ones that have the benefit of truth. Not that I’d expect Joseph Goodman to know what that looks like.

AND, speaking of that Miller kid, he’s also pretty good, as it happens. Coach Nate Oats was not the only one shortlisted for individual honors, Brandon was named a finalist yesterday for the Julius Irving Award, given the nation’s best small forward

SEC Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, First Team and All-Freshman honoree

First SEC player since Kentucky’s Anthony Davis (2012) to win SEC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season

Became the fourth player in the last 50 years to lead the SEC in scoring as a freshman (19.6 ppg) joining Tennessee’s Bernard King (1975) and LSU’s Chris Jackson (1989) and Cameron Thomas (2021)

Miller is the only player in Division I to score 605 points, record 245 rebounds and make 90 three-pointers this season

Has made 92 three-pointers this season ranks fourth most in UA history in a single season and 11 away from the program record (Eric Washington, 1995-96)

Six-time SEC Freshman of the Week, matching the program record set by James “Hollywood” Robinson

Scored 167 points against AP Top-25 opponents this season

For Alabama to finish out the season like they’d want, then Miller will need to rediscover his perimeter shot...the whole team will.

That’s why this week has been spent on self-improvement, especially from three-point land.

Oats has seen improvement from the Crimson Tide this week, including a practice record.

“We got different shooting drills we do in practice,” Oats said. “We did one today. We set a program record for it – it’s all threes. I feel like we’re shooting the ball a little better, which would help the situation out. I think our guys got some confidence back. Some guys that maybe were getting a little banged up got their legs back up under them. I think they’re a little more fresh.

“We’ve tried to be smart. We’ve got a lot of data that Henry and Clarke give us on workload, all that stuff. We’ve tried to be real smart with that while still getting a lot of work in these last three days. I feel like we’ve gotten ourselves better. We still don’t know who we’re gonna play, so you can’t take a whole day and just put it to one team. We’re doing a little bit of that. But we’re getting ourselves back to being the best version of us we can be.”

I get so aroused when Coach Oats starts talking analytics...

Thought we were done picking on Greg Byrne? We are not. Not by a long shot.

One of my consistent harangues on this here dot com site, is that Alabama administrations (any of them, really) fundamentally do not take basketball seriously. They do not allocate resources to it. As a result, the Crimson Tide find themselves having to do more with less. This, despite college athletics being one of those rare instances in life where spending money on the problem usually does correct it.

If you need another instance of that, Alabama is in the bottom third in the SEC in operating revenue, with the Tide spending just under $11 million on the program. This is where I remind you that Alabama is among the wealthiest athletics programs in the country, and last year saw a record windfall. Again.

Kentucky: $22,116,208

Tennessee: $14,659,954

Georgia: $14,127,220

Auburn: $13,813,576

Texas A&M: $13,524,047

Ole Miss: $13,026,006

Arkansas: $11,802,170

South Carolina: $11,792,522

Alabama: $10,900,723

Missouri: $10,286,792

LSU: $9,849,325

Florida: $8,815,741

Mississippi State: $8,384,574

And recruiting-wise? The Tide spend half of what Kentucky does — about $600,00 a year. The Tide is just 4th in recruiting expenditures despite winning the league twice in three years. Imagine what they could do with a few more bones thrown their way?

And here’s the chaser to that shot: Alabama is spending less now on its budding powerhouse than the Tide did in 2018.

In current dollars, Alabama and Florida were the only schools for which data was available that spent less than they did in the 2018-19 fiscal year. Alabama spent nearly $16 million, down to $10.9 million in the most recent year. Florida’s real-dollar spending went down from $9.7 million to $8.8 million.

Here’s a hint, Greg, throwing money at the head coach alone won’t get this done. You are going to invest almost $5 million into the head coach, and then chintz out on everything else? No one is asking Alabama to drop UK’s insane $23 million per year, but spending less now than when the Tide was flailing about for NIT berths? Slashing costs in the face of record revenue? That literally makes no sense.

Get serious about all the programs, or get out. And don’t plead poverty either; last season saw the single greatest one-year increase in attendance of college football games in the last 40 years.


The devastatingly-awesome Luisa Blanco was the SEC’s GotW, after another meet in which she tallied a 10.0. Blanco had her third perfect score on the Beam of the season, and almost nailed a perfect score on Floor. She has come up short just twice there this year, with 9.95s that could have easily been perfects.

Blanco has helped key a much better run of competition by the Tide over the last month that saw their ranking vault from 13th to 8th overall, and Luisa has become the 12th-best individual scorer in the country...which ain’t too shabby, not with two Gold Medal Olympians on the list above her.

She is the defending Balance Beam National Champion, the Tide is 8th in the nation on the apparatus, and Blanco is tied for the national lead in Beam perfect scores.

If you’ve never seen Ms. Blanco, head out to Coleman this Friday for Senior Night. She is special. But she’s not alone; she’s just the most recognizable name on a stellar class that helped revitalize a stagnating program, alongside Makarri Doggette, Mati Waligora, and Ella Burgess.

Próst to Luisa

Nick Saban appeared on ESPN yesterday to defend Bryce Young over concerns about his size for the upcoming NFL Draft:

“We’ve all seen the 6-4, 225-pound guy that can throw it like a bazooka, but he can’t make the choices and decisions, he can’t distribute the ball, he can’t throw it accurately,” Saban told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith. “So who’s the better bet? I’m going on history, production, performance, and Bryce Young’s done it about as well as anybody.”

Smith told Saban he is concerned about Young’s smaller stature from a durability standpoint in the NFL, which is something other media personalities have expressed. But Saban mentioned it wasn’t an issue for his quarterback, who started the last two seasons for the Crimson Tide.

“I think history is the best indicator of what the future is going to bring,” Saban said. “Bryce is not ideal height that NFL folks would like to see for that particular position, quarterback. But I think Bryce has played extremely well. He has no history of being injury-prone because the SEC – there’s a lot of folks in the SEC that end up playing in the NFL, and he plays against those guys every week. He’s never had a problem with injuries.”

It’s not Young’s size that would scare me if I were a GM. It’s that he’s still a baby, position-wise. There are a lot of areas where can improve: the road yips he’s had throughout his career, making quicker reads against the zone, deep ball accuracy, and his propensity to hang on to the ball. If he thought Georgia’s front seven got after him with alacrity, wait until he sees how fast the NFL is.

I like “Bryce, the college player.” He’s a good kid. But I’d be terrified of drafting “Bryce, the Pro” for reasons other than needing a high chair to see over the line of scrimmage.

Time to put on my neutrality hat here for a moment. Look at some of the strong-armed goofs being tossed about as No. 1 overall picks (Levis, AR15), then look at Bryce, and then look at Stroud. Who seems the safest pick to you? I hate to say it, but I’d probably take Stroud over Young. I don’t think he’ll be a star, but I don’t think he represents quite the boom-bust coin toss that Bryce does.

And, because this has gone on way too long already, here are links for a few other stories worth your time:

“I basically love what I do,” said Saban on the Know Mercy podcast. “I love the relationships with the players. I love trying to build a team with a group of people. That’s a lot of fun, and I enjoy doing that. I am also very aware that I don’t want to ever ride the program down. In other words, there’s going to come a time when my age and my circumstance – everybody is going to be able to tell somebody, ‘Well, he’s not going to be there. I mean, how long is he going to coach, until he’s 90?’ And that will start to affect the program maybe in an adverse way. I don’t want to get there.

“And I don’t ever want to be in this position where I don’t feel like I’m making a positive contribution to the program because I can still do the work at a quality level that is making a contribution to the success of the organization. So I’m not there yet, but all those things are factors that I would consider. Whenever the time comes – it hasn’t come yet, and I enjoy doing what I’m doing.”

Hurts expanded on why he stayed at Alabama for a third season before his transfer.

“My teammates are saying ‘why are you still here,’” Hurts said. “They didn’t realize how much they meant to me. My degree was very important to me as well because I wanted to graduate in three years and I handled that. And that’s something I was able to accomplish, got into public relations and get my degree, went off to Oklahoma.

I f***ed up. I’m not here to sugarcoat anything. In 2021, I made the worst mistake of my life by gambling on football.

I paid the price, believe me. I’ve seen all the jokes. I’ve seen all the hate. And I can shoulder all of that, no problem. All I want is for people to understand that, when I made those bets, there was a hell of a lot more going on with me.

This is hard for a dude like me to talk about, but I want to be real with everybody. Back then, I was depressed. I was battling anxiety. I didn’t even want to leave my house. Football was the only thing that ever gave my life meaning, and I couldn’t even find any joy in that at the time. Honestly, I couldn’t even get up off the chair in my living room. Everything was just … dark.

Whew. Helluva’ lot to get through today.

That should tide you over until hoops begins at noon central. We’ll have a preview and bracket and open thread for you then.

Roll Tide


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